Friday, January 29, 2010


I loved the movie UP. One of my favorite lines from the movie is "Squirrel!" You remember. Dug the dog regularly gets distracted by squirrels. Even when he's in the middle of a sentence, a squirrel captures his attention and in a millisecond, he switches his focus.

That is so me! I tend to holler squirrel as frequently as Dug. I think I need to get one of those cone thingies to put around my head. Still, I doubt it would help much.

I currently have four major books I'm either writing or contemplating. The problem is, I love them all and my heart is being pulled in each direction. I'll be in the middle of one and - SQUIRREL! - attention drawn to another. Then I'll write a few thousand words on that one and - SQUIRREL! - I'm distracted by the next one.

Here are my four current "squirrels."

1. Madi Lee in Love (did you catch that play of words on Madly in love? If not, I may need another title), which is the sequel to Mind over Madi, the manuscript currently in the hands of a couple of agents. If either agent is wise enough to represent me (for those who might be raising their eyebrows at my ego, that was said very tongue-in-cheek), I will most likely need to begin writing book number 2 in my projected three-book series. This idea excites me, as it not only means someone other than my mother absolutely believes in this book, but because I adore the characters and would love to continue Madi's story.

2. Dead Weight. This book is about 30,000 words in and has finaled in / won a couple of contests (Genesis 2009, FaithWriters Page Turner, and Phoenix Rattler-does your story have bite?). The characters are fun and quirky and I'm having a blast with the whole mystery part of it, even if I underrated the ease of mystery plotting. I even received some wonderful encouragement this week from an editor with a major Christian publishing company, fueling my desire to see this book finished in time to pitch at the ACFW conference in September.

3. Three Wishes. I was up to about 30,000 words last year and I set this ms aside to focus on finishing and submitting Mind over Madi. I did enter 3W in last year's Genesis and it did not final, despite getting two scores in the high nineties. (That 69 did me in. Oy). I recently read through the whole thing after letting it sit idle for many months and I fell in love with the story again. I hope to polish it up and enter it again in the Genesis this year. This ms also finaled in the Phoenix Rattler - Does your story have bite? contest and the first 10 pages are currently in the final round of judging. There is apparently potential there, plus I love the story and the characters, so my heart is being pulled in this novel's direction, too.

4. Unplugged. YA. Yes, I know...completely different genre, although I think my voice would fit in well here. I'm not going to go into detail about the specifics of this book, since it's only in the head-plotting stage. I did enter the first 500 words in a YA contest recently. We'll see what happens with that. But this is a project I feel could be a hit, not to mention the lower word count requirements of a YA totally appeal to me.

SO...for any agent or editor who happens to be reading this (hey, I have the right to my own fantasies), I can focus. I really can! Honestly, I thrive on deadlines, and am extremely motivated by expert advice and encouragement. Basically what I'm saying is, someone please tell me what to do! And give me a gentle kick in the pants while you're at it.

I suppose the good thing is that I now have several projects to keep me busy and will probably never be short on ideas. I think I'm just trying to figure out where I fit in and where my passion lies.

Please tell me I'm not the only Dug. Tell me about the squirrels in your life. And how do you handle your SQUIRREL! moments?


Faith said...

Unfortunately, I don't think I've quite learned HOW to deal with my squirrel moments yet... and I have a lot of them. I know that tangible deadlines help me accomplish things, but that doesn't always work when there are a million different projects floating around here and there.

Ah well. Something to learn in time, I suppose.

I also LOVED the movie 'Up' :)

Talkin' Texan said...

You are not the only Dug. My squirrels are more like elephants! Huge critters that totally block and squish everything I try to accomplish--things that CAN'T be overlooked.
There's always more to becoming a successful writer than writing. :(
Loved your post.

Maria I. Morgan said...

Oh my! I can definitely relate! I'm currently working on pulling together 30 devotions I've written to begin the query process. But I'm also beginning a devotional series on the Fruit of the Spirit. It is a 9 book series, of which I'm attempting to complete 3 by year end. And did I mention the counseling classes and writing classes I'm taking? Talk about major SQUIRREL - you're NOT alone on this one, Lynda!! God bless!

Sandra Heska King said...

Oh, I can so relate. Right now I'm working . . . SQUIRREL!!!

quietspirit said...

Focusing is difficult for me. I have dealt with this my whole life. Things go along well and then I lose interest. I recently decided to submit a section of a crime story to a mystery magazine. So, I am having a tough time keeping focused on my Christian family story. Any suggestions?

Lynda Schab said...

Hmmm. Suggestions. Well, I know that focus is something we can be trained to do because we use our minds to do it. The Bible is very clear on the fact that WE need to direct our thoughts, which means there may be distractions, but we are able to resist. Not easy, but definitely possible.

I don't, however, think it's always a bad thing to set something aside and work on another project, nor is it wrong to have several things going at once, but focusing on one particular manuscript or work is basically what will get it done.

I think we move from one project to another because we either get bored with what we're working on or are stuck and don't know how to proceed. Although I'm a "seat of the pantser", rather than sit down and just start writing, I find when I think through the next chapter or few pages and have a clear picture of what's going to happen, it's much easier to stay focused.


Karen Lange said...

Oh my, I have lots of squirrels. Praying about which one to focus most on. Thanks for sharing this; nice to know others have the same challenges. Not b/c I want them to struggle, but to feel more normal and less stressed about it:)

Dara said...

I'm like Faith--I haven't quite figured out how to deal with those squirrel moments. I think mine has to do with the lack of focus I have on anything I do...and the fact that I tend to be a little too harsh on myself when things don't work out like I thought.

For example, my current WiP has me so frustrated right now, it's hard to stay focused on it for more than 500 words at a time. Much of that has to do with my difficulty in learning how to write first person well since I'm used to third person. Oh well.

Janice said...

Lynda, not only do I have "Squirrelitis" like Dug, grin, but sometimes I wonder if I'm really more related to the little rodent friend,(minus the bushy tail), who focuses on any slightest noise. Then determined, it continues to search around for that familiar crested nut.

I shake my head at how many times I scamper about rushing here and there, and then forgetting momentarily what I meant to do because of some distraction.

As I look outside my window, where rows of somber soldiers stand silently, I take a moment to reflect on what God consider's important.

I'm reminded of what becomes of the many scattered acorns and how many actually take root.
We all know what happens to the little nut once it does though.:0)
A beautiful oak tree finally shoots up strong and full of life and hope, ready to be a blessing to so many, including the "Squirrel."

I pray that I keep my mind and heart focused this year and from now on and that I continue to take root in God's word and keep growing, even with my "Squirrel" moments. God bless all of you and keep on keeping on.:0)